Socialization is an ongoing process of introducing your puppy to new environmental objects, textures, sounds, people, and situations. Each phase is important to approach with the understanding your dog is learning how each of the elements in their life happen and what they can expect as a result of it.
Begin socialization training as soon as your puppy comes home. Start with the home environment and work out from there into situations in the community.
At Home: Look at each of these areas and make a list of the objects, textures, sounds, people, and situations happening or potentially happening in that space.
If you miss something, or an unexpected situation arises, approach it as calmly as possible as if you had planned it, and use the same training methods you use when you plan a training session.
English Cream Golden Retriever Socialization Checklist
What objects, textures, sounds, people, scents, sights, and situations do you notice or anticipate in the following areas of your home and home life?
- Sleeping area,
- Play area,
- Potty area,
- Eating area,
- Other pets,
- People who live in the home,
- People who visit or drop by (delivery people or friends for example)
People: Consider the age of people when socializing. Different ages of children, for example, might involve different skills for your pet to experience. Consider personalities of people, their occupations (uniforms for example), and be sure to have an observant eye to watch for any changes in your dog’s response to situations.
Example: One of the textures your puppy may encounter is sand. Sand is going to respond in different ways depending on the depth, moisture content, and other variables around it. One way to introduce sand to a puppy is in a sandbox in your backyard or on a playground in your community.
The main reason to take an active part in Socialization Training with your dog is so he/she can develop a self confident and well adjusted character.
Umbrella example: Items such as umbrellas and grooming equipment are great to include on your socialization training checklist. There are times when your puppy will be around people who have these items and it would be helpful for him to understand and anticipate what to expect.
English Cream Golden Retriever Socialization Praising Positive Behaviors
Introduction to objects, textures, sounds, people, and situations can be facilitated using clickers and treats to get started. The primary focus for you (or your trainer) is to show positive and consistent praise whenever behavior you want is accomplished.
Introduce each item with the intent to allow your pet to become comfortable with the situation. Praise her for her positive behavior whenever she adapts. This can be in words, clicker sound, and treats. Celebrate a positive behavior and you will begin to see more of the same.
Image License: CC0 Public Domain Creative Commons